Yesterday, BAME entrepreneurs from London and Greater Manchester’s tech scenes joined a five-day virtual trade mission to North America to explore export and expansion opportunities.
The first DEI trade mission to the US
The Race, Ethnicity And Cultural Heritage (REACH) trade mission is hosted in partnership between The Growth Company’s Global Scale-Up programme and London & Partners Mayor’s International Business programme and is the first in a series of events to be held by the two tech organisations. The mission also has the backing of the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham.
The mission’s goal is to build “cross-border collaboration and advance an inclusive transatlantic community of diverse leaders.” The mission forms part of a wider commitment by London and Greater Manchester to support companies from a range of diverse communities.
Fifteen tech B2B businesses are taking part to gain investment, export, and acceleration opportunities in the US. One of the delegates is a London-based company, Do it Now Now, which is “committed to bringing social empowerment to Black communities across the globe.”
Businesses will take part in investor roundtables and networking events with corporations, including supermarket chain Walmart. There will also be peer-learning where delegates will “meet founders to share their learned experiences.” Speakers include First Boulevard Bank – a Black-owned digital bank focusing on “financially empowering Black America”, which has just raised £5m in seed funding.
The aim of the mission
With a recent report from McKinsey revealing that diverse firms are more likely to be more profitable than their non-diverse counterparts, the trade mission is trying to fulfil the business potential of diverse leadership by bridging the funding gap for minority business owners.
In this regard, “the mission aims to help unlock the enormous value Black, Asian and mixed background businesses from London and Greater Manchester can add to the North American economy.”
However, on both sides of the Atlantic, Black founders, in particular, tend to gain far less capital for their businesses. Over the past ten years, under 1% of venture capital funding went to UK Black-led startups, while Black female entrepreneurs received just 0.02%. In the US last year, while companies raised a record $150bn, only $1bn went to Black or African-American startup founders, less than 1% of total VC funding.
The mission’s supporters respond
Global Scale-up Programme Manager at GC Business Growth Hub, Anna Carson Parker said: “We are continuing to support our businesses in realising their international expansion plans and this mission is part of a wider commitment to help companies from a range of diverse communities.
“We are really excited about what the mission and London partnership will do for the Greater Manchester ecosystem. The mission and Global Scale-up programme show that there are great opportunities for businesses to grow internationally despite the economic impact of COVID -19; Greater Manchester is very much open for international business.”
Dhaval Gore, Head of Mayor’s International Business Programme at London & Partners, said: “I’m excited to support the first diversity, equity and inclusion trade mission to North America, in partnership with Greater Manchester.
“The mission is an opportunity for some of the UK’s most innovative B2B tech companies to explore expansion opportunities in North America and is part of London & Partners commitment to supporting companies from diverse communities to grow and scale internationally from London.”
Sadiq Khan said: “London’s diversity is one of its greatest strengths and this trade mission reflects my wider commitment to support entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds, providing equal opportunities for all and breaking down the challenges faced when growing their business. I am delighted that the Mayor’s International Business Programme is partnering with The Growth Company to launch this mission.
“It is important for UK cities like London and Manchester to work together to support our innovative UK tech companies, strengthen relationships between our tech ecosystems and provide opportunities for our tech businesses to accelerate their global expansion plans.”
Andy Burnham, said: “I am very proud that we are creating this opportunity for underrepresented entrepreneurs in Greater Manchester and showcasing the diverse talent and innovation that is at the heart of our city-region.
“Greater Manchester is the fastest-growing digital and tech hub in Europe, and through our work at Greater Manchester Combined Authority, The Growth Company and the Global Scale-Up programme, we are doing everything we can to support these sectors, tackle digital inequalities, and make sure that this growth benefits all of our places and communities.
“Together with the Mayor of London and our partners in the capital, we hope this virtual trade mission will strengthen the links between our city-regions and offer a platform for Black, Asian and mixed background tech entrepreneurs to promote their businesses and forge exciting new global connections.”
The trade mission started on June 7th and will run until June 11th.